Exceptional cruelty
Published September 20, 2005

The editorial, "Duck, duck, goose," (Editorial, Sept. 15), against the proposed ban on foie gras, posed the question, "Why in the world does the City Council feel the need to meddle in something so small and so personal and so...inconsequential...as what a restaurant chooses to put on its menu?"

The answer is foie gras production is an egregious cruelty that is outside the bounds of acceptable conduct in a society that values compassion. Over 700 restaurants across the U.S., including over 100 in Illinois, have pledged to not serve it. In recognition of the animal suffering inherent in its production, a number of European countries, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. have outlawed foie gras. Last year, California banned the production and sale of foie gras, and New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and Oregon have bills pending.

Foie gras, translated from French as fatty liver, is produced by plunging a pipe down the throats of ducks or geese and force-feeding them massive quantities of food, which causes their livers to swell up to ten times their normal size within weeks. The birds suffer tremendously, both during and after the force-feeding process, as their physical condition rapidly deteriorates. In just a few weeks these animals can scarcely stand, walk, or even breathe.

Exceptional food needn't be produced through exceptional cruelty. Force-feeding is only inconsequential if the tube isn't going down your throat.

Tony Hamer